Abstract Support vector classifier (SVC) has the superior advantages for small sample learning problems with high dimensions, with especially better generalization ability. However there is some redundancy among the high dimensions of the original samples and the main features of the samples may be picked up first to improve the performance of SVC. A principal component analysis (PCA) is employed to reduce the feature dimensions of the original samples and the pre-selected main features efficiently, and an SVC is constructed in the selected feature space to improve the learning speed and identification rate of SVC. Furthermore, a heuristic genetic algorithm-based automatic model selection is proposed to determine the hyperparameters of SVC to evaluate the performance of the learning machines. Experiments performed on the Heart and Adult benchmark data sets demonstrate that the proposed PCA-based SVC not only reduces the test time drastically, but also improves the identify rates effectively.